Last night I had an amazing workshop with an amazing group of cheerleaders preparing for Worlds. This team had been working hard and training the entire year for the opportunity to compete. Now that Worlds is here, they, like so many are filled with fear, worry, and doubt.
Isn’t it funny how we work and work for these opportunities, and when we finally get the chance to compete; We are scared of it. Why are we so scared of something we want so bad?
We talked about their fears, expectations, and their doubts. Which happen to be no different than any other athlete preparing for their BIG competition. They were worried about disappointing their coaches, they wondered if they would be able to perform. The what if’s slowly crept into their thoughts; what if they fell, what if they didn’t make finals, what if they embarrassed themselves, what if, what if, what if…
Mental distractions are the little thoughts that pop in at importune times. Everyone gets these little thoughts, bad, good, and great teams get them too. It does’ t matter whether teams get them, it matters how each team handles them.
Once the thought pops into your head, do you try not to think about it? That won’t work. Trying not to think about something, just makes us think about it more. Instead of trying to forget about the distractions, recognize the thought and figure out why it worries you. Then create a plan on what you want to do and how you are going to do it.
For Example: If you start to worry about not grabbing your flyer’s foot right;
- Become aware you are worried about making the mistake.
- Focus on what you want to do: grab the right way.
- Then focus on how you are going to do it. When the stunt HITS with precision, how does it feel, what is the timing, the rhythm, and then commit to do it.
The workshop taught the team how to refocus after distractions. They learned to recognize the thought and come up with a plan. If they start to worry about competing early in the morning, decide to go to bed early and wake up with energizing music. If they have a bad warm-up, understand the warm-ups are only warm-ups and if they made a mistake, fix it during the competition. If they have a mistake during the routine, continue to fight, work, push through the rest of the routine, and focus on each skill at a time.
Our workshop was informative and everyone left pumped and ready to have an exceptional workout. However, during their full-out, they had four falls.
As I watched their full-out, I could see the looks on their faces. Why didn’t the talk work? Why didn’t they hit with zero deductions? Why weren’t they immediately filled with confidence to go out and win Worlds? The Mental Training didn’t work!
For Example: If I was gave a Nutrition talk and told the team they could lose two pounds by reducing their daily soda intake; they wouldn’t lose two pounds the moment the workshop was over. They would have to do the work. They would need to replace soda with water for their meals. They would have to repeat that behavior over and over again, until they made enough of a change to see a difference.
The same thing is true with Mental Training. It isn’t magic. We don’t become confident, just because we listened to a talk. We don’t forget our fears and doubts in a matter of 30 minutes. Mental Toughness takes training and practice. It happens over time.
My advice to the team I worked with last night would be to keep working, keep fighting, and not to stop. No one can ever be 100% Mentally Strong all the time and everyone will struggle. You don’t need to have confidence to HIT, you just need to think about what you can do to HIT, and do it.
Keep using your Empowering Self-Talk, pay attention to your thoughts, keep working to change them if they aren’t helpful, keep focused on what you want, and keep focused on how you are going to perform to HIT. Keep Mental Training.
IT WILL WORK… IT IS WORKING.
Wendy Bruce is Author of the book Breaking Through a Mental Block. Wendy is the Owner of Get Psyched, Peak Performance Training. For more information on on Mental
Training, camps, clinics, or workshops, visit www.psyched4sports.com